How Proverbs Connect Us
There are many sayings and proverbs that we use almost on a daily basis without thinking of the meaning behind them. For many of them an image instantly springs to mind – and sometimes that image is incomprehensible, amusing or just wrong. Yet, proverbs are a core element of every language culture. Four artists approach a different language culture in the form of illustrations. This is how Beatrice Davies from Germany and Nik Neves from Brazil got to know each other. On the other hand, Anjali Mehta and Jinyoung Choi try to overcome cultural distances with the drawing pencil. Despite all the geographical distance, the results reveal one or two things they have in common.
By Beatrice Davies, Nik Neves, Anjali Mehta and Jinyoung Choi
“Cada macaco no seu galho”
“When I thought about what I associate with the Brazilian proverb ‘Cada macaco no seu galho’ which literally translated from the Portuguese is ‘each monkey on its own branch’ and means ‘each person in their own corner’, I had to think of quarantining at home and the lockdown in Germany, during which every member of the public had to sit nicely on their own branch. So when I then found myself quarantined at home, I often looked out of the window at the building opposite. I observed how people lived their lives differently in each flat, ‘on each branch’. Each individual flat was a little world in its own right. And the individuals in them looked so close and yet so distant from each other,” writes Beatrice Davies, an illustrator and comic artist living in Berlin.
“Jemandem zu Leibe zu rücken”
“Illustrating the expression ‘Jemandem zu Leibe zu rücken’ was not an easy task. But what would be easy, bearing in mind I only started learning German at the age of 30? I can’t recall ever having heard the expression in nearly seven years while I was working between Germany and Brazil – which makes it difficult to be exactly certain whether the drawing truly hits the spot. Internalising and interpreting the meanings behind abstract concepts is probably the greatest challenge. Linguistic subtleties that require longer – but ultimately really give you the sense of being at home in a culture,” says Brazilian illustrator Nik Neves.
“The near neighbour is better than the distant relative”“The famous Korean proverb, ‘The near neighbour is better than the distant relative’ has multiple layers of nuances attached to it that became very relevant during the pandemic. But, we may have our own personal perceptions and experiences associated with this proverb. We have seen and experienced how people who lived close to us became increasingly functional in our daily life: from everyday chats and catching-up to spending days together, cooking for each other, helping each other with needs if someone got sick. And the beautiful part of this proverb is that it wasn't just an experience in Korea, but one that was seen and felt all around the world. My artwork shows a rather commonly witnessed act of kindness, where an older couple is being helped by a neighbour with food and groceries, on a video call with their son, who resides in a different country and can only provide comfort through virtual calls without being able to do much else,” as Anjalia Mehta remarks.
“With Strong Steps”
Born in 1990 in Italy, Beatrice Davies is an illustrator and comic artist based in Berlin, Germany. Having obtained a scholarship from the School of Visual Arts New York in 2010, she began her studies in illustration. In 2015 she started studying visual communication at Weißensee Academy of Art Berlin. In 2016 she was awarded a ComicInvasionBerlin grant, which kickstarted a collaboration with the homeless newspaper strassen|feger. Her first graphic novel, Der König der Vagabunden – Gregor Gog und seine Bruderschaft, published in 2019 by avant-verlag, was shortlisted for the Leibinger Comic Prize 2019. Her second comic book, A Child’s Journey, was published in spring 2020 by JaJa Verlag.
Based in Seoul, Jinyoung Choi works on illustrations for various types of media. On social media, she often shares drawings of everyday life items to relieve tension from people’s hearts, whilst she is active under the pseudonym ‘healthy drawing’.
Nik Neves is a Brazilian cartoonist, comic artist and illustrator. He is the producer of the independent magazine Inútil, where he publishes comic experiments and graphic narratives. As an illustrator, he works frequently for magazines and publishers in Brazil, Germany and England.